Upgrading from Samsung to Apple

by Volker Weber

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When we bought our Samsung TV in 2012, one of the reasons we chose it over competing brands was that it promised to be upgradable. Little did we know that Samsung would not upgrade the software. It would rather sends us a never ending stream of useless apps, that I tried to get rid of. But they would keep coming back.

Two years ago I tried an Evolution Kit, which is a piece of hardware that goes on the back of the TV, with desastrous results. Towards the end of 2014 I visited Samsung's innovation lab in London and learned that (a) yes, the software on the 2012 TV is considered horrible and that (b) the 2013 evolution kit was not usable with Sonos, and (c) that a 2014 evolution kit would be better. Last year I learned that there is no 2015 evolution kit, because Samsung had already abandoned the 2012 TVs. I asked Samsung for an old 2014 kit, but that would have only worked temporarily.

Apple to the rescue. I had already used the previous three generations of the Apple TV and I did not know what to expect of the new one. I was not prepared to be as blown away as I found myself after only a few days of using it. The biggest part of this experience is convenience. I never have to touch the 49-button Samsung remote. Without any manual setup, I can switch on and off both the Apple TV and the Samsung TV with the six button + trackpad Apple remote. Sonos Playbar adjusts the volume with the same remote.

Arte and ZDF have very usable apps, ARD is still missing. Youtube, Vimeo, TED, Dailymotion, Netflix, TapeTV, Watchever are there. I have not played with PLEX or VLC yet. When nothing is on, Apple TV can play beautiful fly-overs. So far I have seen New York, San Francisco and London.

Not everything is perfect. Amazon Prime is missing. And the new Apple TV no longer has a TOSlink out. With my Samsung TV unable/unwilling to passthrough Dolby Digital to TOSlink, there is no path for surround sound.

Comments

and, at least to my knowlage, there is no DLNA-Client for the apple TV. At least not for the unhacked ones...:(

Johannes Matzke, 2016-02-09

*knowlege...

Johannes Matzke, 2016-02-09

Try one more time. :-)

VLC sees my DLNA-server.

Volker Weber, 2016-02-09

Regarding missing TOSlink with new Apple TV:

Have you tried a HDMI switch with a separate TOSlink-out?

e.g.: http://www.amazon.de/Ligawo-Switch-Toslink-Klinke-Ausgang/dp/B002CAZ2Q8

and the according test review

http://www.heimkino-infos.de/testbericht-ligawo-hdmi-matrix-4x2-mit-toslink-und-klinke-ausgang/

It should work with SONOS as well, I guess.

Mathias Ziolo, 2016-02-09

Same over here: never found the built-in Samsung stuff useable. Instead of the Apple TV box, we're using a Amazon FireTV (1st Gen). And it has a TOSlink as well...

Markus Michalski, 2016-02-09

So cool...thx

Johannes Matzke, 2016-02-09

What's used most here is the airplay-turns-on-tv thing. So in the 4th release Apple recognised the HDMI-CEC, paid the fees and integrated it.

Volker, while you refer to the remote you no longer need... it also works vice versa. So if you found a key on the Samsung remote (or cannot find the Apple remote) you can use that as well to control most apps.

Volker Jürgensen, 2016-02-09

Thanks. But I am happy to NOT use the Samsung Remote. :-)

Volker Weber, 2016-02-09

Thanks! I am living in Prime, TV wise, so missing it would break the deal for my usage. I got a new FTV2 recently and it does all I need ATM just fine. I was also surprised by CEC. Unfortunately and completely beyond me is the missing volume control on the Fire TVs.

Hubert Stettner, 2016-02-09

Thanks to Telekom upgrading my DSL to 25 MBit in December, i have an Apple TV (4th gen) since exactly 1 month now.
It's really a great device. The remote of the (2010 semi smart LG) television is not needed any more. As mentioned by vowe, TV automatically switches automatically on and off with Apple TV, and volume adjustment just works out of the box without any training on the Apple remote or the LG TV.

Netflix, Youtube, ZDF and Arte are the most used apps on our Apple TV.
But 2 apps are strongly missed: Amazon Prime Video and ARD Mediathek.
Of course there is a workaround: Amazon Prime and ARD can be streamed via Airplay from the iPad. It just works like a charm. But it puts the iPad under heavy load (battery is drained very quickly, so connecting it to the power supply is strongly recommended). And you can't use the iPad for other things while streaming.

@vowe:
Give Infuse a try. It's like Plex, but without the need for a media server. You can simply connect it to any network share (in my case a USB HDD connected to the Airport Extreme).

Manfred Wiktorin, 2016-02-09

This sounds good, and prompts me to look closer at Apple TV 4 because I had not expected the HDMI-CEC support.

But can I watch actual live TV without touching the Samsung remote? Can it also change channels TV side?

If I am watching BBC News on the TV, and pick up the Apple remote to watch some Netflix, will it change over?

Andy Mell, 2016-02-10

If you already got a Mac Mini in use and a video/movie collection, Plex will be your best friend. It just works really well.

Soeren Gattung, 2016-02-10

Is it worth upgrading from Apple TV x to 4. generation? Any experiences?
My "old" works perfectly for me (iTunes, Youtube, Netflix...).
Plex Media Server (FLAC et al) runs perfect through my B&O TV.

Stephan Perthes, 2016-02-10

My 2011 crippled-smart Samsung TV got "updated" with Chromecast. We bought a couple Android 5.1 devices, everybody is happy nowadays.

Bernhard Kockoth, 2016-02-10

@Manfred

Amazon Prime Video works in the background on my iPad, even with the 9.3 beta.

And there's a rumour that Amazon works on an Apple TV App.

Karl Heindel, 2016-02-10

@Mandred @Karl I wouldn’t bank on Amazon delivering an app for AppleTV. Despite a Prime app being available on the TiVo, we waited in vain for them to bring it to Virgin Media in the UK (their main TV boxes are branded TiVo systems). There is a work-around of course: Airplay from the Prime app on your iDevice to the TV box?

Ben Poole, 2016-02-10

with MrMc (a Kodi fork) available in the AppleTV AppStore this little box even replaced my HTPC. But yes, still waiting for ARD Mediathek and Amazon Video to make this thing perfect.

Mario Eichling, 2016-02-10

I have found similar issues (ie, crappy software) with the Samsung 2015 3D 4k TVs as well.
We went with a Roku4 as our solution and it seems to work well, but we are not tied to the Apple or Sonos ecosystems.
There are so many variables involved, I don't think any is 'better' in a absolute sense, it's done what apps, services, and standards you need in your particular situation.
I am glad that Apple's finally woken up and started to focus on the AppleTV, it will help drive the market.

Craig Wiseman, 2016-02-10

Have you compared it to the Fire TV2 before buying or was that never an option? Because with Kodi installed, Fire TV2 pretty much hits every goal for Smart TV

Kai Schmalenbach, 2016-02-10

Amazon is not an option for me.

Volker Weber, 2016-02-10

I am happy to have still TV3 beside TV4: Only the older one supports Direct WLAN for AirPlay, if you have to connect your Mac / iOS device wireless to a bigger screen while not at home.

Peter Meuser, 2016-02-11

If you want a very lightweight alternative to Plex, I LOVE AirVideo HD. Simple server you install on a machine with your videos, and a client you run on any iOS device including now AppleTV. Works great, transcodes on the fly if you need it. Nice simple interface.

I know people that run a 4 but also a 3 for TOSLink audio - I have a Samsung TV with TOSLink out to the Sonos Playbar, that works perfect for what I need it for.

Kevan Emmott, 2016-02-17

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